Chicago 2011 – Day 2

Hi.  Here’s another Doots-staring-out-the-window shot.  I have dozens.  He was too too darn adorable for words though – he loved to stand there, just watching and calling out to anything he could see:  “Hiya Baby!”, “Oooo, Cars!”, “Mommy!  See Choo-Choos”, “Bye-bye, everybody!”.  Did I mention how he’s a total chatterbox these days?  Yes.  It’s sweet.  And makes me yearn for the days of “quiet” babyhood sometimes.

We kinda lounged around in the morning for a bit (HELLO, VACATION), then our lovely doorman hailed us a cab and we were off to museum campus.  Now: I am all about walking your way around Chicago.  But when it’s bitter cold in the dead of winter, we’re taking a cab if our destination is more than 20 minutes away on foot.  So anyway: our plan was (1) Shedd – Scott’s favorite, (2) Adler – my favorite, and (3) maybe Bongo Room for brunch. 

Ah, Shedd Aquarium – it wasn’t too bad, there were a few school classes touring but for the most part pretty easy to navigate.  Peter loved the fish, the penguins and whales, the EVERYTHING.  It was a good choice of museum with a little one in tow.

Okay so there were the Leopoldi (polka-dot) sting ray, and most just had dots but this one sucker looked like it had some sort of alpha-code on it.  Creepy, like something off of Fringe.

Lots to photograph in here, even though I had to do it all through glass.  In the dark.  With moving subjects.

We basically had to peel him off of this canoe thing.  He was in love and wailed all the way to the next exhibit.

The Beluga whales were showing off when we were there.

I love this place, the architecture alone is just lovely.

Our last stop was to see the penguins.  Peter was getting antsy then, so the penguin play area was a big hit.  Again: had to drag him away sobbing. 

Before leaving, we took Pete to the gift shop and let him pick out one stuffed animal.  Tall order for a little guy who is addicted to those things.  He  chose a penguin, and named him Bobby.  He loves Bobby.   Lots.

We decided against the Adler and Bongo Room, as it was getting later in the afternoon and Peter really should have been napping (and: we didn’t have the stroller on us, that puts a wrench in things as well).  We caught a cab back to the hotel, and Peter enjoyed his new best buddy while we prepped for a quick stroller ride out for lunch.

Clearly Bobby made an impression, as he chose to introduce him to Kitty and Oof-Oof before he’d let us leave the room. 

We decided on Xoco for lunch, and about 2 blocks into our walk Peter was out cold.  And remained that way for the entire walk there, the 25-minute wait for a table, and through the entire meal.  Which was too bad, because the food was To Die For – we got the guac and salsa trio with homemade chips, and Scott ordered the suckling-pig torta with habanero salsa – no messing around with that stuff my friends, it was the Real Deal.  Burn your lips off.  And of course he loved it (that’s my guy). 

I ordered the ahogada – pork carnitas with all the best goodies, served in a tomato broth – perfect, you dipped to your liking and could spoon the broth after your sandwich was finished (by that time, full of yummy bits of crusty bread/pork/beans).  This is something I would love to recreate at home, will have to research.  Probably my favorite meal of our trip – Peter snoozing peacefully next to us, squeezed in a communal table with cold glassees of Bitter Woman IPA and fantastic Mexican street food, light snow falling outside…  Ahhhh, vacations rock.

After the meal, with a STILL ASLEEP toddler (what in the world, really) – we took a nice long walk back to the hotel.  And I had to get a shot of this snowman.

Shortly after we got back to our room Pete woke up.  Yup.  Eh, at least he got some semblance of a nap that day.  Next stop: hotel pool.

Now: Pete and I visited the pool a day earlier, just to scope things out.  He seemed uber-excited then and ready to hop in the water (I had to drag him out to great protest).  However: once suited up and with Dad in the water waiting for him, let’s just say that he got a little bit of stage fright.  The closest he would get was to stand on the edge and half-heartedly dip his hands in. 

Not to worry, though – Dad knew exactly what to do to warm him up to things.

And that, my friends, was all it took to turn him into a water baby. 

While the boys played in the water I took pictures from the sidelines, and lounged (enjoyed the views from the skylight above).  Eventually we pulled our pruney kid out of the water and showered him off, then changed/goofed in the hotel room for a bit.  Soon we’d be off for dinner.

Our dinner spot that evening was Portillo’s – a Chicago institution, this place is a must-stop for any Kemmeter visit to Chicago.  So stop we did, and noshed on Italian beef and fries.  Portillo’s has the best Italian beef in town, and their hot dogs are pretty darn good, too.  If you have never been you better hit it up on your next visit.

The decor is pretty entertaining, too.

On our walk back to the hotel I took a couple shots.  Now: I must admit, I have a raging “NOT A TOURIST” problem.  I travel and see such neat little nooks and quirky details or stunning views and the overriding thought running through my mind is “don’t be the dorky tourist, girl”.  Even when at restaurants, where I try to reason with myself and say “but I’m a food blogger”, I get self conscious.  So I leave the camera at my chest or in my bag.  Then later I regret it.  So anyway, on the walk back to the hotel I took a few shots but not nearly as many as I would have liked.  And it’s high time to Get Over It, yeah?

We got back to the hotel and Peter was Officially Exhausted.  He crawled into our bed and watched cartoons until it was bedtime (we were happy to have some reading and Internet time).

Then some daddy-reading time before finally hitting the sack. 

And there, my friends, is Day 2.  More to come tomorrow.

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